Month: June 2015

Keeps rainin’ all the time

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

June 30

Lena Horne1917: Singer and courageous activist Lena Horne is born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She begins her career as a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club. She wins a Grammy as best pop vocal performance (female) for the 1981 album Lena Horne: The Lady and her Music Live on Broadway.


   
Clyde McPhatter1956: Clyde McPhatter has the #1 song in the R&B nation with Treasure of Love.

A little bit of rhythm and a lot of soul

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

June 29

Little Eva1945: Singer Little Eva (Eva Narcissus Boyd) is born in Belhaven, N.C. She is discovered by songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin while she is baby-sitting their daughter. Her biggest hit is The Loco-Motion, a #1 song in 1962.

 

 

Gordon Lightfoot1974: The #1 song in the land is Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot.

Oh my darlin’ don’t you cry

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

June 27

Doc Pomus 1

Young Doc Pomus performs in NYC.

1925: Songwriter and bluesman Doc Pomus is born Jerome Solon Felder in Brooklyn, the son of Jewish immigrants. Influenced by Big Joe Turner, among others, young Felder makes music his career. He uses crutches and later a wheelchair to get around as a result of the polio he suffers as a child. He gigs at clubs around NYC, performing with the likes of Milt Jackson, Mickey Baker and King Curtis. Pomus records approximately 40 sides as a singer in the 40s and 50s for record companies such as Chess, Apollo, Gotham and others. In the early 1950s, Pomus starts writing songs for artists such as Lavern Baker, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles and Big Joe Turner to earn more money to support a family, after he had married Willi Burke, a Broadway actress. His first big songwriting break comes when he chances upon the Coasters version of his Young Blood on a jukebox while on his honeymoon. Pomus had written the song, then gave it to Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who radically rewrote it. Still, Doc has co-credit as author, and he soon receives a royalty check for $1,500, which convinces him that songwriting is a career direction worth pursuing.

Dylan visits Doc.

Dylan visits Doc.

By 1957, Pomus has given up performing for full-time songwriting. He collaborates with pianist Mort Shuman, whom he meets when Shuman is dating Doc’s younger cousin, to write for Hill & Range Music Co./Rumbalero Music at its offices in New York City’s Brill Building. Pomus asks Shuman to write with him because Doc doesn’t know much about rock and roll, whereas Mort is familiar with many popular artists of the day. Their songwriting efforts have Pomus write the lyrics and Shuman the melody, although often they work on both. They write the hit songs A Teenager in Love, Save The Last Dance For Me, Hushabye, This Magic Moment, Turn Me Loose, Sweets For My Sweet (a hit for the Drifters and then the Searchers), Go Jimmy Go, Little Sister, Can’t Get Used to Losing You, Suspicion, Surrender and (Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame. Lung cancer takes Doc’s life in March 1991 at the NYU Medical Center in Manhattan.

Doris Troy1963: Just One Look by Mama Soul Doris Troy peaks at #10.

In the jingle-jangle morning

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

June 26

The Byrds Tambourine1965: The Byrds hit #1 with a cover of Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man. Of course they shorten the lengthy song so their version is suitable for AM radio play. Some of Dylan’s greatest work gets scant AM exposure because he never pays attention to the three-minute rule. Not to say The Byrds’ version is bad by any means. Roger McGuinn’s 12-string guitar and cool voice give it an engaging lilt and, even with some verses chopped out, it’s a great song — the start of the folk-rock era. It is said that The Byrds’ version of the song convinced Dylan to go electric.

Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

June 25

Carly Simon1945: Carly Simon is born in New York, daughter of the co-founder of Simon & Schuster publishing house. She wins the Best New Artist Grammy in 1971. Her biggest hit is the million-selling 1972 #1 single You’re So Vain.

BEATLES FIRST US VISIT 1964Marianne Faithfull1967: The Beatles record All You Need Is Love live during a British TV broadcast. Marianne Faithfull sings in the chorus.

The lone heart I own

by Steve Kline


The lone heart I own

twice tried to quit on me. While I’m grateful

for the glimpses afforded me

of the road ahead, I am not at a stopping place.

So I tread fast and hard and tend with purposeful ferocity

my leather-threaded heart, demanding — pounding it.

To which it responds with swelling strength

that will stun you should

you try me. Heels, toes, heels, toes

until blood dumps into places

not designed for blood.

I push it past the house

where my daughters were born, the blacktop

where I taught them to ride; past

the other house where I brought my first and brightest bride —

all the places

where my vows take root and bloom still. God,

they make me proud. And I will test this heart

in these ripping places until the things

that gnaw at it

break their teeth

and I meet them

dry-eyed, open-armed, steel-sworn.

Copyright (c) 2015 Steve Kline

I’m a-gonna tell you how it’s gonna be

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

June 23

Niki Sullivan1937: Born this day in South Gate, California — Niki Sullivan, guitarist, singer, one of three original members of Buddy Holly’s backing group, The Crickets. He co-writes a number of Holly’s hits — including Not Fade Away — and sings back-up vocals on 27 of the 32 songs Buddy records over his brief career. Sullivan leaves The Crickets early in 1958 for reasons that are unclear to this day. A heart attack takes his life at his home in Sugar Creek, Missouri, on April 6, 2004.

Robert C. Hunter1941: Grateful Dead lyricist Robert C. Hunter is born in San Luis Obispo, California. After volunteering to take LSD as part of the CIA’s early ’60s experiments, Hunter plays in a Bluegrass band with The Dead’s future founder, Jerry Garcia. Hunter composes the lyrics for Dead classics Uncle John’s Band, Truckin, Casey Jones and Dark Star.

He’s a walking contradiction

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

June 22

Kris Kristofferson1936: Kris Kristofferson is born in Brownsville, Texas, the son of a minister. He attends Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship and receives a PhD from Pomona College in Texas. He writes several top 40 songs, including the #1 song Me and Bobby McGee. His biggest solo hit is Why Me, a million-selling record that reaches #16 on Chart Toppers’s Hot 100 in 1973. One of my favorites is Pilgrim Chapter 33. Kris is still performing, recording and acting.

 

 
Chuck Berry1959: Chuck Berry releases Memphis, Tennessee.